Sabermetric Kerfuffles

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ari20dal7
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Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:01 am

Hey. Recent TLS sports debates have whetted my appetite to discuss the grand old game in more detail. I live with those who aren't so inclined, so I've taken to the internet. You can read and comment on my posts at http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com.

I'll be copying the posts here, but you obviously can't comment on this page. So, come on over.

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The curious case of the Anaheim Angels

Postby ari20dal7 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:02 am

Comment at: http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... im-angels/

It is probably now far enough into the season to start looking at Pythagorean records. There are three teams that have been outliers thus far:

Atlanta (32-32 for real, 37-27 Pythagorean, 5 games unlucky) - This one hurts, as the Braves would easily be in the divisional race with results that match their performance. 3-17 in one run games? This is particularly perplexing given Atlanta’s strong bullpen performance……a real noodle scratcher. We’ll be back to these guys in coming days.

Cleveland (28-35 for real, 32-31 Pythagorean) - This also hurts, as they’re four additional games out (although the White Sox have also been two games unlucky). Chicago’s pitching will get worse - there’s no doubt about that. They have two relievers with an ERA+ below 100, and they’ve pitched a combined nine innings. Buehrle will probably be better, but Contreras, Vasquez, and the bullpen will get worse. The real question is whether they’ll concede 9-10 games to Cleveland and Detroit……Unless someone other than Sizemore starts to hit, that won’t happen. I think Cleveland will hit more, and so the Chicago lead will erode. Will it erode 8.5 games worth? Guess that’s the issue, ain’t it?

Anaheim (39-25 for real, 33-31 Pythagorean, six games lucky) - Here’s the real topic of this post. How can Anaheim still be leading the West with this kind of performance? Well, the usual sources of this discrepancy are present: 13-8 in one run games, a few more games against sub-.500 teams….but these aren’t really enough to explain that difference. Of course, it’s unlikely that this will continue, but the real question is whether the underlying performance will improve. Let’s break it down:

1) Offense - Nobody has upside but Vladdy, who’s had a bad year by his lofty standards. He’ll heat up. The rest of the lineup is basically as expected - Anderson is finished, and the Angels would do well to replace him. His last big year was 2003, and last year was above average, but not really exceptional. He can still contribute off the bench, but they need to get a kid in there or make a deal. There are no obvious candidates, but Anderson and Matthews are lead weights right now. There’s no real reason to expect Anaheim to score significantly more runs, as Vladdy’s improvement will likely be mitigated by declining OBPs from Figgins and Kendrick.

2) Pitching - This staff is a real strength, but there’s no real candidate to improve, with the possible exception of Jered Weaver. I love these young kids, but will they really get better? Seems unlikely.

So they’ll keep pitching well and keep hitting poorly…..seems like their record will come back toward .500. As with the White Sox, the question is pretty simple: can they lose five games to Oakland? I think so. The Athletics are probably going to get what they’ve gotten on offense, and their pitching is young and strong. The biggest places Oakland will suffer is in the inevitable Rich Harden injury and a potential decline in their impenetrable bullpen, but this isn’t a problem that the Angels don’t have. I think this will likely be the most interesting divisional race in September, as neither Oakland nor Anaheim are particularly likely to win ninety games. Neither Texas nor Seattle will be able to impact the race, so it looks like a battle of two great young pitching staffs. Can’t wait to watch.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:41 am

Comment at http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... ght-to-dl/.

According to the Cardinal website, Adam Wainwright will head to the DL with his sprained right middle finger. The injury is one of four to impact the Cardinal rotation this season, but shouldn’t keep Wainwright out for too terribly long.

Piniero and Wellemeyer will be able to rejoin the rotation, which will be welcome news. Wainwright’s sprained finger represented the first time that Darin Erstad has been at the plate for a pitching change since 1999.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:39 am

Comment at http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... who-cares/

Three Point Shooting Efficiency: Who Cares?

Well, I’m here to find out. The league average three point shooting percentage was .362 on an average of 1485 attempts (that’s an average of eighteen per game). Thirteen teams attempted more than 1485 threes on the season. Of these thirteen, seven shot better than league average and six shot worse. We cannot assume that those who shot better than league average were making a good bet, as they might have been even more efficient from two point range. However, let’s look at those six teams who shot more threes at a worse rate (Cleveland, Denver, Washington, Houston, Memphis, and Golden State).

Cleveland took sixty more threes than you’d expect and posted a percentage almost exactly league average, so really nothing to see here. However, the biggest story is that LeBron James hurled up 359 threes at a 31.5% clip, which is well below the league average. Anytime your most frequent three point shooter is shooting well below league average, something needs to change. Bron-Bron is a terrific player, but this element of his game either needs to improve or become less prominent. On possessions where LeBron shoots a three, he becomes a league average player at best.

Denver took 120 more threes at a rate just below league average. So, on the whole, not much to see here. Kleiza and Iverson took the most threes on the team and shot worse than the team from long range. This is not acceptable: too many shots chucked up there, too many wasted possessions. This again is a team that shot better than the league from the field, indicating that better options were available.

Washington is a poor shooting team anyway. Antawn Jamison took too many threes at a bad rate.

Houston had the worst shooting percentage from three of any of the teams who shot more threes than league average. Tracy McGrady hucked up 300 threes at a 29% clip, while guys like Rafer Alston shot 400 at a rate worse than the league. Shot selection is terrible on this team. Their non-three shooting percentage is pretty average, but they’re taking too many bad shots. This is one reason that a team that boasts two offensive superstars in Yao and McGrady can nevertheless be a mediocre offensive club.

Memphis shot three hundred more threes than you might expect. Kyle Lowry’s 140 three point attempts resulted in just 36 makes. Rudy Gay was also below average with nearly 400 threes. Young guys, and you’d expect them to improve.

And then…..there’s Golden State. They proudly hoisted SEVEN HUNDRED more threes than the league average - that’s nearly nine extra threes per game, all of them shot at a below average accuracy. Who are the culprits? Baron Davis, for one, took 525 threes and missed over two thirds of them. Stephen Jackson shot 503 at just about league average. Matt Barnes shot 181 at under 30%. Their other primary three shooters were average to good. But Baron Davis is killing them from three, and he’s doing it six and a half times per game.

This raises another question: all of these teams feature a star player who’s shooting a lot of threes at a bad percentage. Is this a leaguewide trend? Let’s look at the top ten guys in the league:

1) Jason Richardson, 599 attempts, 40.6%

2) Rashard Lewis, 533 attempts, 40.9%

3) Baron Davis, 525 attempts, 33.0%

4) Peja Stojakovic - 524 attempts, 44.1%

5) Stephen Jackson - 503 attempts, 36.3%

6) Jamal Crawford - 494 attempts, 35.6%

7) Ray Allen - 452 attempts, 39.8%

8 ) Joe Johnson - 444 attempts, 38.1%

9) Raja Bell - 439 attempts, 40.1%

10) Juan Carlos Navarro - 432 attempts, 36.1%

Thankfully, all but three of these guys are at least league average. Navarro is only a tenth of a percent below, so that isn’t really an issue. But Crawford and Davis stand out as real chuckers. Davis, for instance, cost his team a point per game from three when compared to the league average three point shooter. That doesn’t seem like much, but keep in mind that championship teams typically only outscore their opponents by an average of seven to nine points per game. These shot selection issues matter, and a mere swing of five points per game can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs, or making the playoffs and being a factor there. We’ve got a few teams whose shot selection is costing them a significant portion of that number. Many of the culprits are at least established NBA players, and many (including LeBron, McGrady, Baron Davis, and Allen Iverson) are bona fide stars.
Last edited by ari20dal7 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:50 pm

Comment at: http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... -catchers/

Your 2008 All-Star Ballot: NL Catchers

Reason has broken out among NL All-Star voters (well, kind of)- a feat which is much easier when the best two candidates are a Cub and a Brave. Problem is…….they’re in the wrong order.

Currently, Geovany Soto is winning the race in a walk, with McCann in a clear second. Let’s look at some vitals:

McCann: .305/.384/.573, OPS+ 151

Soto: .281/.371/.538, OPS+ 132

These are both fine players. McCann and Soto will probably be the two best offensive catchers in the NL for the foreseeable future, and there’s no reason to expect their value to decline much (other than the usual faster decline experienced by catchers). McCann is a decent defensive catcher, while the jury is still out a bit on Soto. Soto’s BABIP is about 35 points higher than McCann (.333-.298), so to the extent that luck is working for anyone, it’s probably working for Soto.

Just beneath these two should be LA catcher Russell Martin. His absurd .426 OBP is a real bright spot in the Dodger lineup, although his .358 BABIP is largely responsible for his superiority in this regard. His numbers will fall off, but he’ll remain the third best NL catcher. For some reason, NL voters don’t appreciate him at all - even more mind-boggling given the size of the LA market. In fact, no other Dodger is on the leaderboard at all in NL balloting. This makes sense, as the only other player having a decent year would be Rafael Furcal in limited action. Still, you’d think at least some homers would vote for Furcal or Martin……

The fightin’ Molina brothers come in fourth and fifth, depending on how you see defense. I think Yadier’s superiority in defense overcomes Benjie’s slight advantage at the plate. Yadier’s offensive output has steadily improved, making him one of the better catchers in the league. However, the top three are easily superior at the plate, which is probably an advantage that outstrips Yadi’s defensive production.

The actual balloting as of yesterday:


RANK PLAYER NAME NL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Soto, G. Cubs 969,853
2. McCann, B. Braves 578,276
3. Molina, Y. Cardinals 458,084
4. Towles, J.R. Astros 367,248
5. Martin, R. Dodgers 350,694

The elephant in the room, of course, is the difficulty in measuring the defensive contributions of a catcher. This is a problem across the game, but defensive statistics have come along further at other positions. My instinct is that proper defensive statistics would demonstrate that the defensive efforts of catchers are overrated to an extent, but that’s a question for another day.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:00 pm

Comment at http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... 10-reds-0/

6/11/08, Cardinals 10, Reds 0

Well, an old fashioned whuppin’ at the Great American Ballpark last night. A few stories of note:

1) Obviously, Braden Looper was the big story of the night. Loop went the distance, throwing just 98 pitches. 4 K, 3 H, 0 BB. Exactly the kind of night you need when your best pitcher and the best hitter in baseball are sidelined. The ball was in the air a little more than you’d like at the GAB, but can’t complain much about this outing. He also got another hit, but his BA dropped to a pedestrian .385.

2) The Cardinal offense was efficient again, scoring ten runs on ten hits and leaving just six on. Eight walks certainly helped the cause, as Red pitching continues to remind you why optimism in Cincinnati is generally misplaced. Ryan Ludwick continued to impersonate Robert Redford, increasing his BA to .321 and driving in two. Ankiel hit a three run bomb, and even Jason LaRue burned his former mates.

3) Under twenty thousand came out for the game. Now, it is a Wednesday night, but it’s a Wednesday night in June. The kids are out of school and it’s Cincinnati: what else is there to do? Struck me as odd in looking at the box score, so I decided to look at Cincy’s attendance figures for the season. They’re averaging about 23,800, one of the worst figures in the league. New ballparks lose their shine when there aren’t many players in them. These Reds aren’t actually awful or anything: it’s just that they aren’t good, and I don’t know that they’ve got any reason to expect better. As usual, Adam Dunn is the team’s only real bat (OPS+ 136). Griffey’s been average, and they haven’t gotten the year they hoped for from Brandon Phillips. Maybe Jay Bruce can give them an offensive lift.

4) The Red starting pitching is awful. But have you noticed Volquez? ERA under two this far into the season…..bears watching. Peripheral stats are a mixed story: he’s walking about 4.5/9 IP, which is generally a bad sign for a starter, but he’s also striking out over ten per nine. This deal worked out well for both sides…..Hamilton is an All-Star, and Volquez might very well be. The bullpen’s been OK, but Harang is the only other guy in the rotation who’s even league average, and the Red offense just isn’t powerful enough to cash that check. They’re not as far off as they look at times, but you’ve got to wonder where they’re going to come up with two legit big league bats and two league average starters, as this is what it will require to contend in the NL Central.

5) The NL East is playing .499 ball on average. The NL West is playing .456. The AL East is playing .536. The AL Central is playing .464. The AL West is playing .505.

The NL Central is playing .534. Just sayin’.

Tonight, the Cards and Reds finish their three game series and St. Louis goes for the sweep. Piniero returns from the DL for the Cards, while Arroyo goes for Cincinnati at 6:10 Central.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:59 pm

Comment at http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/2008/0 ... rdinals-2/

6/12/08 - Reds 6, Cardinals 2

First, the positive. Piniero was decent in his return from the DL - his own error led directly to one of the runs scored, and anybody can give up a solo bomb. 5 IP and 2 ER first start back is OK by me.

Second, the lesson. The primary determinant of who wins and who loses is the relative level of talent on the field. Great starting pitchers are valuable because they allow many fewer runs over the course of a season. The difference between a great starting pitcher (such as Brandon Webb) and a league-average starting pitcher (such as Jamie Moyer is these days) is about a run and a half per nine innings, or about a sixth of a run per inning, if you can think of it that way. That’s a big deal by itself. But what matters even more is that the best starters tend to pitch more innings than the average guys, meaning that their performance is magnified.

This seems intuitive: if six innings of Brandon Webb is better than six innings of Jamie Moyer, wouldn’t seven and a half innings of Brandon Webb be better than six innings of Jamie Moyer? Of course it is. But here’s the other key factor: Webb minimizes the amount of time that your bullpen has to be in the game. This is something that baseball people have understood forever. Tired bullpens are bad. What isn’t commonly appreciated is that the best starters minimize the extent to which you have to use your worst relievers.

Piniero only went five tonight, as you might expect in your first start off the DL. But the truth is that Piniero is typically a 5 2/3 kind of guy anyway. Tonight, Ron Villone, Mark Worrell, and Randy Flores all saw significant action. None of these guys is bad - but it’s not as good as Kyle McClellan-Russ Springer-Ryan Franklin-cold Budweiser. Because the Cardinal bullpen was asked for four innings tonight (counting the ninth inning that never happened), the guys who aren’t our best pitchers decided the game, and indeed the whole seventh inning mess was caused by three bases on balls surrendered by guys who concede at least 5 BB/9 IP. They’re not bad pitchers, and I still love ‘em with all my heart. But they’re not our best pitchers, and they decided a game tonight.

Still, a fine 6-3 road trip to Washington, Houston, and Cincinnati. The Cards return to the ballpark tomorrow night against Philadelphia, the NL East leaders, to try and slice into a 3 1/2 game deficit. It’ll be Kendrick and Wellemeyer at 7:15 Central.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:42 am

Tons of new stuff up at http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com. We've got writeups on most of the Cardinal games over the last couple weeks, analysis on Dice-K's lucky season, some college hoops talk, a link to the most touching video I've viewed on the interweb, a view to an Alou.......lots to read and comment upon.

I won't be posting here much if at all, so if you wanna talk ball, come on over!

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:19 am

Some additional stuff on http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/. We've got the beginnings of what will be a very interesting look at the NBA Draft (and weather analogies to boot!), some bitter tennis commentary, a destruction of silly ESPN musings on interleague play, and of course plenty of Cardinal writeups. C'mon over.

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:26 pm

More Cardinal writeups and a music review. http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:43 pm

Some Cardinal writeups, a brutal beatdown of Jayson Stark's analysis of the NL Central, how ari20dal7 was won over by Rafael Nadal, and additional criticism of foolish sportswriters.

http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/

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Re: Sabermetric Kerfuffles

Postby ari20dal7 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:02 am

Of course, there's the usual Cardinal writeups. We've also got analysis of the NL Central race at the All-Star break. (Hint: the only serious challenger to Chicago is the 1987 Cardinals).

However, the crown jewel is a "Pinkerton"-style dedication to the first half of the season.

http://alasbabylon.wordpress.com/




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